The ever-growing threat of cyber-security was the topic du jour at the latest Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday.
Chief Information Officer of Fortis Inc. Phonse Delaney told those in attendance that malware and ransomware can affect any size of business.
"Cyber-security is a real threat, escalating a lot in recent months and years mainly enabled by cryptocurrencies and the ability for criminals to get paid," he said.
When it comes to Fortis, the province's primary provider of electricity, Delaney said they haven't been subject to any attacks to date, but that doesn't mean they aren't taking preventative measures worth millions of dollars.
"Utilities have their customers' personal information which we guard very securely," he said. "As well, utilities have the grid and the grid is comprised of many digital industrial control systems. We have very strict standards in place that we abide by."
Delaney said businesses can even test their employees by sending out emails that look malicious, as an education tool.
"One key message is that between 80 and 90 per cent of all breaches occur because somebody clicks on a malicious link in an email or a text," he said. "If people want to know where to start, that's it."
He added that people need to remember hacking and sending out ransomware isn't that difficult to pull off.
"People have a perception that hackers are geniuses or IT experts, but they're not. Hackers are criminals," he continued. "You can access all the top technology for hacking, whether it's malware or phishing campaigns, online. It's for sale online -- you've just got to be a criminal."
A list of cyber crime prevention tips from the RCMP can be found here.
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